Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Writer's Block

This blog post is about the bane of all writers.  That itch in the middle of your back that you just can't seem to scratch.  Those automated calls that you get that are just advertisements. That dog that won't stop yapping at 3 AM.  No that's not what this is all about.  I'm talking about writer's block.

So what is the cause of writer's block?  What makes is so impossible to put word after word down?  I define writer's block as anything that prevents me from writing when I am trying to write.  I can think of several reasons that it occurs for me, and what I do to get around the problem.  Most times it is something that can easily be fixed.  Below is my list of the three most common causes of writer's block.

  • Distractions! 
I like to write with music or a movie playing in the background, but there are a ton of other things that can be distracting.  Alerts on your smartphone, roommates, pets, children, etc...  It seems pretty straightforward to get rid of distractions, but it can be tricky.  If your mind doesn't want to work on writing then it can be distracted by the smallest things.  Maintaining focus can be rough at times.  For me vitamin B is great for keeping me alert and focused.  For everything else it's sometimes just better to turn the TV or music off, put the pet outside, put the phone on the charger in another room, and put the "Do Not Disturb" sign up.  It won't kill you to let it go to voicemail.  Ok it might, but at least you'll get some writing done first.

  • Losing Interest 
This is linked to having distractions.  If you lose interest in what you are writing then you are probably going to find distractions to keep your mind busy.  There are several ways to get around this.  You can move on to a different part of the story.  A part that excites you more than what you are currently writing.  You could start another story.  It sometimes helps to write more than one thing at a time.  I would suggest not taking on too many things at once though.  I've done that many times, and you could end up abandoning your original story.  Sometimes it's good to have these fragments, and you can pick them up again later to use them.  Sometimes you just end up having a lot of unfinished projects which is not a good thing.  The best solution to this for me is to just think of how you can make this part exciting again.  Think of what happens next, and what you can do to make it fun to write again.

  • Lack of inspiration
It's hard to come up with good ideas sometimes.  This is where it is good to have an outline.  If you have a good outline then you at least have a starting and ending point.  When you don't have any good ideas, write your bad ideas.  You can always come back to it in another draft.  You can ask someone else for ideas.  It's good to get a second opinion when you're not happy with what you have.  There are times when I'm writing that I spend 30 minutes to an hour thinking things through before the words start flowing.  It can be time consuming to get going at times.  That is part of the reason I like to have movies playing in the background while I write.  Reading can help to provide ideas as well. Inspiration can be found all around you, and taking a short break can be the key to getting the words to come.  Sometimes the minute you stop thinking about it is when the solution presents itself.  This can be the most frustrating of the bunch, but it is also the one that I encounter the least.

So what causes you to have those painful moments when your fingers stop tapping on that keyboard?  Writer's block can attack us all at times, and I'd like to hear what you all think.


Christina P. said...

Lack of sleep. Hunger. The loud noise my PC makes, but then I try to drown it out by playing music, and thennnnnnnnnn I get tired of the same ol' songs I have so I hop onto YouTube in hopes to find new music but THEN I have no idea what to look up so thennnnn I post on my Facebook page asking for suggestions, and THEN I'm distracted by the Facebook notification sounds....... LOL. There's so many distractions when I'm trying to blog. :) See ya Friday.

(Your blog is coming along great!)

Brian Basham said...

You need to stop staying up until 4 AM blogging Christina. You know that little monster you got over there is going to get you up too early for you to be staying up that late! I'll bring my ipod over for you to look at to see if there's anything you like on there. I don't really listen to it as much as the radio and Pandora. If those FB notifications keep distracting you then turn your volume down! On my phone I always have it set to vibrate or silent.

Christina P. said...

Sir, yes, Sir! Such hostility in your voice. I won't stay up late to blog anymore. Geez. LOL!!! OK, sounds good - bring it on Friday. See ya! :)

Brian Basham said...

Yes you know how hostile I am all the time. You wanna fight now?!?! *running and hiding from Christina before she decides that she does*